And then there were 16. We are on to the Super Regionals of the 2023 DII softball championship. There will be a new champion in 2023 as defending champion Rogers State — and the team they beat in Cal State Dominguez Hills — has been knocked out from regional play.
Heading into the tournament, I projected what the Super Regionals will look like. Since I have always believed in accountability, how does my scorecard look? I got three Super Regionals correct — the East, Midwest, and West — and at least one team correct in the remaining five, as I predicted correctly that Central Oklahoma, Charleston (WV), North Greenville, UT Tyler and Tampa would advance. So, 11 out of 16 is not my best work, but I'd getting a passing grade if this were a college course.
FOLLOW LIVE: Scores and updates from the Super Regionals
With Super Regional play beginning on May 18, it’s time to look at each best-of-three series and see how I do in predicting the eight teams that will head to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the DII softball finals, beginning on May 25.
Atlantic Region: No.1 East Stroudsburg vs. No. 3 Charleston (WV)
There is plenty to watch in this Super Regional. The Warriors are making the program’s first-ever Super Regional appearance quickly recovering from an early exit in the PSAC championship. Ace Paige Zigmund is a huge reason why, pitching to a 0.74 ERA with consecutive shutouts in three tournament starts. It’s been a while for Charleston, which made it to the DII softball finals in 2016, but the Golden Eagles are back in the Super Regionals once more. They have been my sleeper for a few weeks now and have the program’s first-ever MEC title and fought their way to the round of 16. Hannah Rose is a big reason why, hitting .514 with 13 home runs and 71 runs scored through 54 games.
Winner: Charleston (WV) in three
Central Region: No.1 Central Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Southern Arkansas
It was no easy road to the Super Regionals for the Muleriders, having to defeat the defending champs (Rogers State) and No. 2-seeded Missouri Southern to get here. But this is a program that has become tournament regulars and had a few trips to the final eight in recent memory. They got solid pitching in from Sydney Ward, allowing just one run in two complete-game victories over Rogers State, and a Gracie King walk-off homer to down the Lions. Central Oklahoma, simply put, is and has been very good at softball. Central Region player of the year Shayla Harper (.406, 14 homers) leads an explosive offense with mashers galore while Terin Ritz locks it down in the circle, sitting at 24-1.
Winner: Central Oklahoma in three
East Region: No.1 Adelphi vs. No 2 Wilmington (DE)
It’s like déjà vu all over again. These two met last year in the Supers and went all three games. Wilmington will certainly have revenge on the mind, but Adelphi is scorching hot with some of the best pitching in all DII. The Panthers have won 25 in a row and Lindsey Hibbs is having a special season, now sitting at 27-3 with a 0.55 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, and 385 strikeouts with her ERA and Ks best in the division. Wilmington has had some fun taking care of Georgian Court, beating the twice in a row to win the CACC and then two more times to advance to the Supers. The Wildcats certainly have some strong pitching in starters Kylee Gunkel and Delani Sheehan, and with a .331 team batting average can get the ball in play. Will it be enough against that pitching?
Winner: Adelphi in two
BRACKETOLOGY: Follow the interactive bracket
Midwest Region: No. 1 UIndy vs. No. 2 Grand Valley State
There’s no surprise here, as both teams cruised into the Super Regionals without a loss thanks to some superb pitching performances. Kenzie Smith went the distance in all three games for the Greyhounds, allowing just two earned runs, including an impressive 11-inning victory over Lewis. For the Lakers, it was Hannah Beatus who improved to 25-1 on the heels of three complete games herself, including back-to-back shutouts of Saginaw Valley State to close out the regional. This Super Regional may come down to who scores three total runs, and while I think Lydia Goble is the best player in the series, I think UIndy may have a little more pop in the lineup to deliver the big hit. This one can really go either way, and if we’re lucky it goes the distance.
Winner: UIndy in three
South Region: No. 1 Tampa vs. No. 3 Nova Southeastern
The Sharks are another team remaining in the field making their Super Regional debut. Nova Southeastern played in the same conference as Tampa and Saint Leo, two pretty dominant teams, so were sometimes overshadowed. But make no mistake, these Sharks are good, winners of 41 games (and possibly counting). They are rolling in with a ton of momentum behind a 13-game winning streak and ace Alyssa Drogemuller has been sensational in the tourney so far, tossing a shutout to help the Sharks advance. But this is Tampa's region to lose. The Spartans are 43-3, have won eight in a row, and have one of the more utterly dominant pitching staffs in DII, combining for a 1.25 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Don't sleep on this offense though. The lineup is led by Camryn Wineinger who is hitting .414 with six home runs and is an extra-base machine. She opened the tourney with back-to-back multi-hit games.
Winner: Tampa in two
South Central Region: No. 1 UT Tyler vs. No. 3 West Texas A&M
No real surprises here. UT Tyler has been a machine since jumping up from DIII and West Texas A&M has been a powerhouse (in home runs and wins) for pretty much the last decade or more. The Patriots enter with an almost absurd 57-4 record having won 34 games in a row. That is quite the bit of steam to have behind you heading into the most important series of the season. Courtney Plocheck (.401) and JT Smith (11 doubles, 12 home runs) power the lineup while both Tatum Goff and Shea O'Leary have been untouchable in the circle. West Texas A&M is also a 50-win ball club and is looking for its third national championship in the past decade. Ruby Salzman (.395, 22 home runs) has been one of the premier sluggers in DII since she stepped on a field. The pitching is deep and has combined for a very nice 1.88 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in a part of the country where the long ball dominates. This should be a great battle.
Winner: UT Tyler in three
Southeast Region: No. 1 North Georgia vs. No. 2 Wingate
Ho hum. Another year, another deep run by the Nighthawks. North Georgia is looking to make its third-straight trips to the finals and fourth overall since 2018. You can pencil this team as contender on opening day and have part of your bracket correct on Day 1. The Nighthawks are 57-6 and had to beat a potent Columbus State team four times to win the PBC and regional. The lineup can rake, and led by Sophie Mooney and Sydney Blair, the team hits .368 with 64 home runs and 510 runs scored. Wingate, too, has been strong from start to now, reeling off a 48-15 record. The lineup — led by Savanna Brooks' 15 home runs and 18 doubles — has quite some pop, bashing 77 home runs this year. The pitching has been good, but is it good enough to slow down one of the most explosive offenses in DII? We shall see.
Winner: North Georgia in two
HISTORY: Most DII softball titles and every winner ever
West Region: No. 1 Concordia (CA) vs. No. 6 Cal State San Marcos
Cal State San Marcos is one of two six-seeds still standing, but no surprise here, as I predicted the Cougars to advance. Right back where they were last year in the Super Regional, the Cougars will once again have their hands full to get to the finals. This team is simply balanced in both the circle and lineup and absolutely steamrolled its way to the Super Regionals, winning all three games by a combined score of 35-2 in the regional tourney. Will they be able to score all those runs against this amazing CUI rotation? Combined, the pitching has put up a 0.96 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 396 strikeouts. Daniela Alvarez and Katlin Entrup have allowed 31 earned runs in 245.1 innings pitched all season. The West is full of surprises of late, so don't be surprised at all to see the unpredictable come to fruition.
Winner: Cal State San Marcos in three